SFL First Division: INVERNESS CT 1 DUNFERMLINE 1: 23/10/99

This may have been a local derby for Inverness as they played their geographically nearest league neighbours, but for Dunfermline and their supporters it was a journey of novelty and curiosity. Many of the near four figure travelling support were up for a highland weekend and following on two good performances there was little reason to doubt the match and its result was going to spoil a good weekend. Unfortunately I did not knock back enough pre match drinks to think that this was a good Dunfermline effort.

Dunfermline without the suspended Smith and Coyle fielded French and Hampshire as the new strike force. Andy Tod was back at no.4 and Stewart Petrie returned after missing last week’s match because of flu.

Dunfermline started playing with their support behind them, towards the Kessock Bridge. Not a lot happened in the early exchanges but the home side should have cashed in on a 13th minute chance that fell to the unmarked Barry Wilson on the right but he shot straight across goal and the ball whisked past Westie’s right hand post. This woke Dunfermline up and immediately Stewart Petrie forced a save from Fridge at the other end.

Eight minutes later French headed a Petrie cross just past the post. Next Brian Reid did the same from a Petrie free kick. On 27 minutes Jason Dair lost the ball to Denis Wyness. The Caley centre’s shot was saved by Ian Westwater’s foot but the ball bounced back off a defender and the keeper scrambled back to turn it past the post. The corner, Caley’s 7th as opposed to the Pars 3 at this stage, was missed by everyone.

The statistic demonstrates that although Dunfermline had produced chances but the home side were not lying down to their opponents. So when Dunfermline scored on the half hour the Caley fans were right to feel that this was slightly against the run of play. Attacking down the left wing, Jason Dair fed Petrie whose cross was met by Thomson, Skinner and French before Steve HAMPSHIRE slotted the ball into the net.

Marc McCulloch fired one over the crossbar as Dunfermline entered into their best spell of the game. A Scott Thomson corner found Brian Reid who allowed French a shot that was saved. Thomson next nodded a ball down to Eddie May whose cross Hamish French drove at the keeper. By half time the corner count was 8 all and the half time pies were consumed with quiet optimism.

Four minutes into the second half Denis Wyness tested Westwater and a minute later Paul Sheerin shot a good chance over. Justin Skinner should have increased the Pars lead after 55 when he was presented with a free header in the box but his effort fell wide.

Barry Wilson had another free shot from the right that hit the net support at the rear of the goal. Andy Tod had a header from a corner saved just before David Moss was introduced to midfield with Scott Thomson taking over from Jason Dair at left back. The Pars only other chance came from Andy Tod at another corner 8 minutes from time.

Inverness had introduced all three of their substitutes and an Inverness goal began to look the more likely. Westwater saved from Sheerin on 86 minutes and Wyness forced another save a minute later. With John Potter on for Brian Reid the defence looked static as a last minute free kick from the left was met by no.15 Martin Bavidge and the subs header beat Westwater low to his left.

Westwater had performed well but looked tired in attempting to keep out the equaliser.

Killiecrankie, Cawdor and Culloden - all the roadside reminders of Scottish history that one passes on the A9 seemed to do little to install a fighting spirit in the Pars play. The match was a tame affair in which Dunfermline just did not do enough to deserve to win.

DUNFERMLINE: Westwater; May, Tod, Reid (Potter 88), Dair (Moss73); Thomson, Skinner, Dolan, Petrie; Hampshire, French (Nish 81).
Yellow Cards: No Pars

REFEREE: IS Emslie (who did well)

Next match v St Mirren (away) Bells Scottish First Division Saturday 30th October 1999

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